Crouching Cultist, Hidden Heretic
Several districts west of the ports of Yufu Qu and Gangwu Qu are the craftsman’s workshops. Massive workshops housing hundreds of smiths belch smog into the air alongside countless makeshift scrapwood shacks and tents containing those who cannot or will not take the coin of the mighty guild leaders and still maintain their own practice. Alongside the smiths are the weavers, not the silks for which Shen Zhou is famous, but the simple cloth which most of the cities clothes and so much of its tenements are made from. And, of course, the district would not be complete without those tenements, stretching upwards here as they do everywhere. So close to the noise of the factories and the choking smog of their forges the prices are very cheap, and work is easy to come by even if it is backbreaking and for next to nothing.
The magistrate of this district is bought and paid for by the guild lords, who struggle with one another for control of the incredible manpower available to Daxing Cheng’s industrial heart, often paying outrageous sums to Wulin to attack a rival lord’s business, his workers, his customers, and often enough, the lord himself. The guild lords avoid forging any ties with any particular faction for fear of losing control of the district, but instead they each pull from the same pool of Blade Dog thugs, Fire Doctrine marauders, Southern Dragon privateers, Eagle Talon mercenaries, Black Lotus assassins, Blood Wind terrorists, and Vile Rain psychopaths.
The Yun Clan has bought up significant real estate in the area, however, seeking to impose their own order upon the teeming chaos of the fighting guild lords. They are led by Yun Fang, an ambitious nephew of Snow Leopard who seeks to make his legend by turning Daxing Cheng, all of it, into a mighty outpost of the Yun Clan kingdom. If he can clear out the corrupt magistrates and make forests and mountains where before there had been only rivers and lakes, the Jin Emperor shall surely recognize Daxing Cheng as an autonomous vassal like the Yun Kingdom across the empire to the west, and Yun culture and economic influence shall stretch over the largest and wealthiest (in absolute terms, anyway) city in all of Shen Zhou.
No one believes more strongly in this dream than Yun Fang’s wife, Yun Sun. Though she rarely appears in public, it is said that Yun Fang shall never need fear an assassin while his perceptive and deceptively vicious wife is in the room. Rumor has it that she has a kennel full of half-starved dogs who are fed only on the still-living would-be assassins and saboteurs who threaten her husband’s ambitions.
While Yun Sun’s viciousness is the stuff of rumor, Lu Chen’s is well-known fact. Lu Chen is Yun Fang’s most vicious enforcer. When the guild lord of the iron wheel street factories would not sell his land upon Yun Fang’s arrival, Lu Chen fought through no less than two dozen hired Wulin bodyguards to kill the guild lord so that Yun Fang could move in and make his palace there. Lu Chen made many enemies that day, but none so far have been able to overcome his incredible strength. It is said that once he was poisoned with enough venom to kill three men, and yet still he survived. Some days later, as he battled his illness, a guild lord attacked Yun Fang’s business to take advantage of Lu Chen’s infirmity. Though the doctors begged him to remain in bed until he was recovered, still he donned his armor and fought off a half-dozen Wulin to defend his lord’s business.
The Liquid Metal Delegates recognize that the Yun Clan is a step up from the chaos that had previously consumed Buyi Qu, but nevertheless they participate in the corruption of its magistrate and intend to remove both him and all the others from power. Though the Delegates do not disagree that they must be replaced, the lawful means of doing so is to have them replaced by order of the prefects of their respective provinces, or to have those provinces reorganized by the Emperor so that Daxing Cheng falls entirely within the bounds of one or the other. The Yun Clan have had the limits of their territory set by imperial decree, and while they may be useful allies against the outright anarchists of Daxing Cheng, ultimately Yun Fang must learn to respect the limits of his clan’s territory and authority.